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Biglietto Per L'Inferno - Tra L'Assurdo E La Ragione CD (album) cover


Biglietto Per L'Inferno


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.83 | 34 ratings

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4 stars Being one of my favourite, possibly even favourite band in the RPI genre, it was with considerable excitement that I heard the news late last year that Italian legends Biglietto Per L'inferno were reforming; not only reforming but releasing a new album as well. Truth be told, this is not entirely new in terms of the compositions as there is only one track that didn't appear on their other albums. The rest are reworked and re-recorded versions of songs that appeared on their eponymous 1974 debut and it's follow up, recorded not long after, but not seeing the light of day until 1992, Il Tempo Della Semina.

The suffix Folk has been added to the end of the bands name as although a folk element could be heard in the earlier incarnation the new Biglietto is a much expanded band with a more diverse range of acoustic instruments being used than before. As well as the obligatory flute which was always a key element of the bands sound we also have Accordion, Bagpipes, Ocarina, Mandolin, Violin, acoustic guitar, stand up bass, fife and recorder. Don't get the idea that this is an acoustic album through and through though as there's still plenty of heavy electric guitar work, another key element and the keyboards though now playing a less important role and now down to one player as opposed to two originally. Giuseppe Cossa is here, one of the original keyboard players, the other was Giuseppe "Baffo" Banfi who is present in a production capacity. Also present from the original band is drummer Mauro Gnecchi and vocalist/flautist Claudio Canali, who retired to a monastery, makes a small guest appearance.

The most noticeable difference to fans of the band will undoubtedly be Canali's replacement, female vocalist Mariolina Sala. She's certainly got a good dramatic voice and it puts an interesting slant things but may be a bit of an aquired taste for some people. Personally I'm very happy with her performance here. The rest of the new members all fill their rolls with admirable aplomb with guitarist Franco Giaffreda playing with a more modern metal style when in his heavier moments than the heavy and raw style of Marco Mainetti.

Moving onto the compositions; as mentioned earlier the album consists in the main of reworked versions of their two seventies studio albums. While some don't stray too far from the original arrangements, the most obvious being Confessionne which retains it's hard rocking status, others sound considerably different. The diverse range of folk musicians/instruments brought in not surprisingly has had considerable impact. Il Nevare now starts with a jazz inflected double bass and vocal led start before accordion leads in the rest of the band and turns it into much more of a folk tune. It has also increased by a couple of minutes in length to make room for more instrumental interplay with a suitably powerful yet tasteful electric guitar solo. The same however can't be said for the epic L'amico Suicida. When I say epic I refer to the original version which has now been reduced from the symphonic behemoth that it was into less than three minutes. Now it's a short accordion and bagpipes dominated instrumental and a shadow of its former self.

Where they don't stray too far from the original arrangement, the most obvious difference between these versions and the originals, apart from the change to female vocals of course is the songs now have a more refined feel, played with more finesse and do sound great but I do have a preference for the rawness and fire of the originals which was an important part of their charm. The large use of acoustic instrumentation has also reduced the important role the keyboards played originally too. Fans of the highly regarded Il Tempo Della Semina (the song, not the album), depending on your point of view, may be relieved to know it hasn't been tampered with too much. Perhaps though, that misses the point as if you're going to revamp material that was pretty much spot on the first time around then it's worth going all out to do something different. Fortunately I think they've got it just about right here; there's enough difference to make it worthwhile without cries of sacrilege coming from the Biglietto faithful.

Before closing I must mention the new composition, title track Tra L'assurdo E La Ragione which has a folk/jig feel. Suitably upbeat it's played with gusto and quite enjoyable, though not an album highlight.

The return of Biglietto per L'inferno, or should I say Biglietto Per L'inferno.folk is most welcome and despite the lack of new material they've turned out an excellent album. I hope we can expect more from this great band in the future with an album of totally new material. Welcome back!

Nightfly | 4/5 |


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